Tis the season for making lists, and based on Gannon's performance in their pulsating 70-68 win over Urbana, John Reilly had a list of his own entering Saturday's game:
Don't give up easy shots inside the three-point line. I don't know a lot of things, but I know Bob Dukiet's defense after watching and playing it in practice for three years. He called it "tough and slough" -- tough on the ball and helping in the paint on dribble penetration and post-entry passes. The weakness to that defense is that you can give up three-pointers. But if you have to give up something, you give up the shot that teams usually hit only 30% of the time. The Knights looked vastly improved playing Dukiet's D against Urbana. You might laugh at this, but my favorite defensive play of the game was when Danard Crouch helped out to tip away a UU post-entry pass. That tells the other team "you're not coming in here." Again the Achilles' heel of the defense is giving up threes and Urbana hit 16-of-31 (51%). Despite that stat, Reilly said in the paper Sunday that it was Gannon's best defensive effort of the season. Though I didn't see the road games, I agree that it's the best defense GU's played in their three home games. They didn't give up many layups and they kept Urbana out of the post. That will win you a ton of games.
Win the battle of the boards -- everybody's going to the glass. I saw Reilly's Brescia teams play a few times, and they looked like 6-foot-4 piranhas when the ball hit the rim. The Knights resembled those Brescia teams last night. Outrebounding Urbana 41-29 was impressive, but the stats inside of that are even better. GU had 16 offensive rebounds which allowed them to attempt 9 more field goals than Urbana (63-54). Four different players had 5 or more rebounds: Kelvin Agee 11, Travis Brannen 7, Anthony Clagett 6, and Stephen Battle 5. Combined with the Dukiet defense that I mentioned earlier, that kind of effort on the glass will win you a ton of games.
Get the ball inside every chance you get. When Steve Piotrowicz brings the ball up the floor he usually looks like he's crossing the street, scanning the court from one sideline to the other. Last night on a few occasions he put his head down and charged toward the basket like a team of reindeer after a giant carrot. In their first several games, the Knights settled for outside shots without even considering getting a shot in the paint. The emphasis Saturday was drive by your guy or try to throw the ball into Brannen before looking for a three.
Gannon's 40-2 points in the paint advantage was not a coincidence. If the Knights can keep teams on the perimeter, own the boards, and get shots in the lane consistently, they'll -- say it with me -- win a ton of games.
* The officials made the right non-call on the final shot of the game. If the contact on the shot is created by the shooter, it's not a foul. Imagine if that wasn't the rule. Basketball would be nothing but players attempting a shot fake, throwing up slop in the general vicinity of the basket, and then going to the free throw line.
* I made the comment earlier about how the lone weakness of Dukiet's defense is giving up three-pointers. Imagine how effective that defensive scheme was before the advent of the three-point line? Click here and scroll to page 6 to see the scores when Duke was the head coach at St. Peter's (NJ) College in the early 80s. My favorite is beating Duquesne in the second round of the NIT, 34-33.